Vol.XVI No.II Pg.4
April 1979

Unity And Human Reason

Robert F. Turner

My attention has been called to an article in Firm Foundation (g-12-78) entitled, "Thus Concludeth The Brotherhood." The writer wisely says, "We can bind nothing upon anyone. God can bind everything he and his inspired representatives said and did upon whomever he wishes... Unity must begin where inspiration begins and end where inspiration ends." "'Thus concludeth the whole preacherhood' is not now, nor will it ever be, in the same league with 'Thus saith the Lord.'" These are noble thoughts and worthy of all acceptation.

But the chief thrust of the article is thus expressed: "The axiom is simple: Christian doctrines which take a human mind to produce are not 'solely' the result of inspiration." Or, as put elsewhere, "There are at least three categories of religious truth. There is God's word, which is absolute truth; there are opinions about God's word, some of which will prove to be true; and there are convictions drawn from God's word, again only some of which will prove to be true. Now upon which of these can we unite? Obviously, only on the first. There is only one absolute in Christianity and that is the truth as delivered by the Spirit, unmarred by human thinking. This is limited all things recorded from Genesis to Revelation."

I asked Guthrie Dean to read and comment on the F.F. article, and got the following (which must be right, for I had thought the same thing): "l. Bible statements are pure truth. 2. These truths must pass through human minds to become operative in the Christian's life. 3. But in passing through the human mind this message becomes a 'concluded conviction'. 4. Concluded convictions cannot be made a test of fellowship. THEREFORE, no Bible truth can be made a test of fellowship." The axiom is too simple!

The F.F. writer seems sincerely to seek a solution to division, and we applaud his distinction between God's word and "brotherhood conclusions." But this only means we must continue to seek truth at its source, looking to God's word rather than to "the way we do it" or "teach it." To rule out human thinking is to cut man off from God's message altogether — unless the writer is headed for the "spiritual discernment" routine. The Bible can be read and understood (Eph. 3:4; 5:17) by human minds. The message God gave is suited to the man God made. When false conclusions are drawn, and they will be, it is evidence of faulty study: prejudiced, incomplete, or fallacious. It emphasizes the need for continued study, with attention focused upon the Bible rather than upon our previous conclusions.

The writer repeatedly reminds us that "we have, from time to time, altered some of our 'absolute' convictions." If so, we did it by thinking; and if we revised our conclusions due to reliance upon God's word that is exactly as it should be. Our "endeavoring" or "giving diligence" to keep the unity of the spirit (Eph. 4:3) is expressed by the same Greek word as "study" to present thyself approved unto God (2 Tim. 2:15). The end is contingent upon human effort; attainable through Christ to the faithful. (continued next page)